The NJ Police Chief Magazine - Vol. 28, Number 3 - Page 14

Busting Some Jersey Myths
Mitchell C . Sklar , NJSACOP Executive Director
The New Jersey Police Chief Magazine | November 2021
Sometimes it seems like our beloved Garden State is more of a mythical place than an actual US state . There are so many myths and misconceptions about New Jersey that it is hard to keep track of them all . And I am sorry to say that many of these same myths are believed by our very own residents – even by those who should probably know better . It occurs to me that this is as good a time as any to address some of these misconceptions and do a bit of ‘ myth-busting .’
Myth # 1 : New Jersey has more municipalities than anywhere else in the United States .
Not true : In fact , according the to Census of Governments ( conducted every 5 years by the US Census Bureau ), New Jersey does not even crack the Top 10 :
Illinois : 2,828 Minnesota : 2,720 Pennsylvania : 2,625 Ohio : 2,327 Kansas : 1,993 Wisconsin : 1,924 Michigan : 1,856 North Dakota : 1,718 Indiana : 1,662 New York : 1,587
Nationally , there were a total of 38,779 general-purpose governments in the United States at the time of the most recent Census , along with another 51,296 special districts i .
Well , if NJ is not near the top in total number of local governments , then surely we must be top-10 in governments per capita , right ? Well , we are number 15 - from the bottom of the list ii . The top 10 states with local governments per 100,000 residents iii will likely surprise you :
North Dakota : 352.8 South Dakota : 219.4 Wyoming : 137.1 Nebraska : 132.4 Kansas : 130.3 Vermont : 116.7 Montana : 116.4 Idaho : 68.1 Minnesota : 65.4 Maine : 62.5
Myth # 2 : The bigger the better : larger jurisdictions are more cost effective . Not true : A study conducted by Rutgers University found that municipalities with larger populations tend to spend more on a per capita basis than smaller ones iv .
Myth # 3 : New Jersey spends more tax dollars on policing than anywhere else . Not true : Despite being the most densely populated state , and the 11 th most populated state , New Jersey is number 12 on the list expenditure per capita for policing ( between Minnesota and North Carolina ) v .
Myth # 4 : New Jersey has the most police departments in the country . Not true : Again , even with the confluence of a large and dense population , critical infrastructure , incredibly busy road and highway system , New Jersey barely cracks the top 10 in terms of police departments in the country ( coming in at number 8 ), falling between Michigan and Wisconsin vi .
Myth # 5 : New Jersey has an usual number of police departments serving small towns . Not true : Not only not true , but not even close to true . According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics , more than two-thirds ( 71 %) of local police departments served populations of less than 10,000 residents vii . By my count , 242 municipal police agencies in New Jersey serve populations in excess of 10,000 ( roughly 45 %, nearly double the national average ).
Myth # 6 : New Jersey has the best pizza in the United States . Okay , this one is true .
i Source : U . S . Census Bureau , 2017 Census of Governments ii Ibid . iii Ibid . iv Marc Pfeiffer , Assistant Director , Rutgers University Blaustein Local Government Research Center , as quoted on https :// nj1015 . com / nj-about-to-subtract-one-of-its-tiniest-towns-in-rare-merger / [ Published : October 11 , 2021 ] v Policing and Corrections Spending by State , https :// www . moneygeek . com / living / state-policing-corrections-spending / vi US Department of Justice , Bureau of Justice Statistics , Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies vii Department of Justice , Bureau of Justice Statistics , Local Police Departments , 2016 : Personnel